From the moment I first heard her lilting laugh, I was drawn to Kathy, the lovely lady with a perpetual smile. She and her husband Terry were sitting right in front of us at a local concert. We made eye contact that led to small talk before the performance.
“Hi! Haven’t I’ve seen you at church?” I said, leaning forward to introduce myself.
“That’s’ right! I’m Kathy.” Her friendliness warmed my heart, and we chatted away. Just moments before lights went down, her eyes lit up when she realized we were both interested in a simulcast to be held at our church: Beth Moore’s “Living Proof.” Later that evening, when Terry recalled our introduction, Kathy told me he suggested, ‘You should call her.’ That’s how we made plans to sit together, to meet early in the sanctuary for the broadcast of the women’s conference.
We sat shoulder-to-shoulder with time to get to know each other before the production. I learned that we were both relative new-comers to the area. We’d each lived in several different locales before landing in our town; we’d both graduated from parenting (three adult children, each) but neither of us would ever graduate from praying. When I learned Kathy had been involved in the same prayer ministry I cherished, Momsinprayer.org, I was amazed at how much we had in common. Though she’d originally hailed from the mid-west and I, from Virginia, we both lean-in toward leadership; both drawn to women’s ministry. Plus, we share the mutual blessings of a long marriage.
Over time, she and I have made it a habit to meet-up, scheduling regular lunch dates at one of our local restaurants, or, on busier weeks, a quick cup of tea at one of our respective kitchen tables. No matter where we convene, I’ve come to appreciate the atmosphere she creates: an unconditionally loving, safe place for me to share whatever’s going on. She listens well, and when she speaks, she often exemplifies Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
After Kathy and I had been friends a few years, my husband and I began experiencing an unusually rough patch, with poor communication among other things. When Kathy and I met for lunch that week, my emotions got the best of me practically the minute we sat down to discuss the menu. It was never my intention to burden her with my problems, but we’d developed a bond that allowed me to let down my guard, and the tears just fell. Thankfully, we had chosen a more private table, and I held it together until after the waiter disappeared. Not put-off by my emotional state, Kathy leaned in, and asked what was wrong. I divulged that, for weeks on end, my husband and I seemed to be bickering over everything. Our mutual enjoyment of each other had vanished in the milieu.
“We’ve both been walking around feeling hurt all the time, and he considers himself to be last place on my priority list. He’s been feeling neglected, but so have I. It’s gotten to the point where we’re like the walking-wounded.” I looked out the window and smiled sarcastically at that picture, hesitating before going on. Playing with my wedding ring, not making eye-contact, I was nervous opening up like this. When I looked up, she was nodding empathetically. I continued.
“Once he finally opened up, I realize he’s been preoccupied with financial concerns, while I’ve been preoccupied with this dreaded menopause: headaches, fatigue; I’m always on edge,” I said, grabbing a tissue from my purse.
Kathy waited, then spoke with understanding. “Sounds like you’ve been in the middle of a perfect storm.” I nodded, took a deep breath. Lunch came, and I think I even ate. Kathy made no judgements, while offering an attentive ear. I knew without a doubt that when we parted that day, she would be praying for us.
Whenever I feel led to open up with my trusted friend, I go away with a glimpse of the ‘real me’ behind the words. If you have a godly friend, she can become a healthy mirror, even when you don’t particularly like what you see. It can be almost as off-putting as a physical mirror, especially at my age, like when I get caught up in the dreaded selfie:
- Oh my, such puffy eyes—maybe I need a cold press.
- Let me try my good side—Oh, no; not-so-good after all.
- I’ve added more weight across my middle: when did that happen?
But looking into the heart is a whole different matter. Having a healthy method of reflecting what’s really going on inside can bring clarification. James 5:16 puts it this way: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.”
As she shoulders my burdens in prayer, the Holy Spirit uses Kathy’s feedback to create an atmosphere for healing from bitterness, resentment, or the ‘poor-me’ that sneaks in from time-to-time. I’m the recipient of what Solomon expresses in Proverbs 15:23:
“A man (or woman) has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” I’ve gained God’s wisdom as it comes gleaming through the reflected lens of my treasured and trusted friend.